Hannah Lutzenberger

Hannah Lutzenberger

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I am a postdoctoral research fellow on the SignMorph project in which I will focus on studying Kata Kolok, a sign language used in a Balinese village. My research interests cover language documentation, language variation, and language acquisition.


  • PhD from Radboud University, The Netherlands, 2022
    Dissertation title: “Kata Kolok phonology - variation & acquisition”
  • Research MA with distinction in Linguistics with a specialisation in sign language linguistics, Amsterdam University, The Netherlands, 2017
  • BA in Sign Languages, Hamburg University, Germany, 2014


Originally from Germany, I studied BA Sign Languages, where I also acquired my first sign language (DGS; German Sign Language), and Linguistics at Hamburg University. During this BA programme, I also spent a semester at Paris VIII University. Before starting my MA, I did research internships with Prof. Ulrike Zeshan at the International Institute for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies (iSLanDS) at University of Central Lancashire, UK, and with Dr. Connie de Vos at the Max Planck Institute in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. I then moved on to deepen my understanding of linguistics with a research MA in Linguistics, specialising on sign language linguistics. My master thesis focused on negation in Kata Kolok.

After my research MA, I moved to the Center of Language Studies at Radboud University, Nijmegen, to do a PhD on Kata Kolok phonology, supervised by Prof. Paula Fikkert, Prof. Onno Crasborn, and Dr. Connie de Vos and funded by a collaborative grant between Radboud University and the Vrije University Brussels by the Dutch Science Foundation and the Flemish Science Foundation, awarded to Prof. Bart de Boer, Prof. Paula Fikkert, and Dr. Connie de Vos. In my PhD dissertation I study Kata Kolok phonology, taking the perspective of variation among adult signers and the acquisition of Kata Kolok phonology by deaf L1 child learners of Kata Kolok.

I joined the Department of English Language and Linguistics in September 2021. Before coming to the University of Birmingham, I was a PhD candidate at the Center for Language Studies at Radboud University and the International Max Planck Research School in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. My dissertation investigates on phonology in Kata Kolok with a particular focus on variation and L1 acquisition.


My research is focused on Kata Kolok, a small sign language used by the deaf and hearing inhabitants of a Balinese village. Most of my research is based on a long-term fieldwork, mixed-methods approaches and combining qualitative and quantitative analyses of both spontaneous and elicited data. I have also carried out some smaller projects involving experimental data and corpus data from other sign languages. Broadly, I am interested in how aspects of social structure and interaction impact linguistic structure and how (sign) language is acquired by (deaf) children.

Currently, I am working on three subprojects of the SignMorph project: 1) a position paper on the notion of morphological complexity and sign languages, 2) an experiment to test iconicity in sign language morphology, and 3) exploring social networks in different signing communities. I am also involved in a cross-linguistic comparison of lexical variation and a project comparing conversational repair in BSL and English. I am passionate about collaborating with other researchers, particularly on research on the acquisition of Kata Kolok.